Byrnes defeated Bergen Catholic (N.J.) 25-21 in a nail-biter Saturday to claim the fifth annual Palmetto State Showdown National 7-on-7 Passing Tournament championship at Beech Springs Intermediate School.
“Our defense struggled at times during the tournament,” said Byrnes football coach Chris Miller. “But they stepped up when it mattered the most against a team (Bergen) that nobody was able to stop during the entire tournament.”
The Rebels were down with 1:53 left in the game when the defense forced a turnover. Quarterback Shuler Bentley, the tournament’s MVP, hit wide receiver Greg McHamm for the go-ahead touchdown.
However, Bergen Catholic did not give up. The Crusaders drove the ball down to the Byrnes 10-yard line with five seconds on the clock. The Rebels defense stepped up and forced an incomplete pass to end the game.
“Byrnes is a great program with great coaches,” said Bergen coach Nunzio Campanile. “Schematically they are very sound and it was great to play against some of the best teams on the East Coast.”
The two-day tournament included 20 teams from Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina
Four area teams (Byrnes, Greenville, Spartanburg and Wren) competed.
Last year, Brunswick High (Ga.) took home the tournament championship with its 24-22 victory over 2010 champion Wren.
“You definitely want to win a tournament that you are hosting,” said Miller.”It’s nice to win a 7-on-7 championship, but we are more concerned with winning state championships.”
Byrnes defeated Gaffney 31-24 in the AAAA Region 1 championship last December. The Rebels, fresh off of back-to-back championship seasons, look to take home the programs 12th State Championship in 2012.
With the tournament win, Byrnes has two 7-on-7 tournament championships in June. The Rebels defeated the Grayson Rams 35-27 earlier this month. The victory qualified Byrnes for the National Select 7-on-7 Tournament held July 26-28 in Hoover, Alabama..
“I want to thank our fans for coming out and supporting us during the tournament,” said Miller. “Also, I want to thank the tournament’s director, the Touchdown Club, and sponsors for putting on this tournament.”